Rubén Cantú-Rodríguez

DEL RIO – Del Rio will never forget… Sunday, September 11, 2016, those who lost their lives during the 9/11 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania were remembered in Del Rio. Project: Pledge of Allegiance held a memorial ceremony and U.S. flag retirement ceremony at the Val Verde Fairgrounds, in conjunction with the Boy Scouts Troop 280 Laughlin AFB, Gypsy Motorcycle Club, and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8552.

“This is very important to us, we’ve been having this ceremony for many years,” said Steve Rosalez, Project: Pledge of Allegiance coordinator.

The Val Verde Fairgrounds filled with patriotism as the red, white and blue flag was raised at half-staff, and the victims of those terrible attacks were in everybody’s mind, heart and soul.

Rosalez said the idea of the flag retirement ceremony in conjunction with the 9/11 memorial emerged in the aftermath of the 2001 attacks, when the country felt the need to display their patriotism, and U.S. flags were purchased and displayed by almost every American.

“U.S. flag manufacturers were struggling to keep up with the demand, eventually they caught up. But those flags have a lifespan and can only be displayed for so long,” he said.

“Many patriots had neglected to replace their flags that had become unserviceable or they did not know where or how to ‘retire’ a flag that was no longer functional.”

This year, a special presentation was made, in remembrance of America’s prisoners of war/missing in action service members. The ceremony was led by Ventura Mancha, VFW Post 8552 Post Commander.

Del Rio’s own motorcycle club, Gypsy MC, rode the POW/MIA flag prior to the ceremony.

Mancha explained the significance of a series of objects displayed, where the empty chairs represented missing Americans from each one of the branches, a white tablecloth reflects the purity of soul when answering the call of service, a single red rose reminds us of the lives of these Americans.

A yellow ribbon represents hope for their return, a slice of lemon reminds us of their bitter fate, captured and missing in a foreign land, a pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of our missing, a candle reflects hope for their return, and the Bible represents faith.

Patriotic door prizes were raffled out, and many of those in attendance took home a brand new U.S. flag, which will serve as a reminder of this historic date.

The Laughlin Air Force color guard started the ceremony, and the Pledge of Allegiance and Texas Pledge of Allegiance were led by the Boy Scouts Troop 280 Laughlin Air Force Base.

Rosalez said that Project: Pledge of Allegiance takes U.S. flags all year long, and those interested in retiring an unserviceable banner can contact him by calling at (830) 765 6455 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.